Sunday, 15 September 2013


'Contemporary languages from Centro América' edited by Luisa Fuentes Guaza, published by Turner

Introduction by Luisa Fuentes Guaza

NuMu, Guatemala

Ciudad Multiple, Panama

Interview with Adrienne Samos, Panama

exhibition curated by Emiliano Valdes, Nicaragua

Fiesta Eclectica de las Artes, El Salvador

Hybrid Art Projects (aka La Tunca Palace), El Salvador

Simon Vega, El Salvador

Adan Vallecillo, Honduras

Tun, Guatemala

Byron Marmol over Botero at El Encuentro Cheverista in Medellin

Kamin exhibition in Guatemala

Irvin Morazan, El Salvador

Maniana exhibition curated by Beatriz Lopez in Guatemala

and text by Rosina Cazali

Contemporary languages from Centro América
Introduction text by
Luisa Fuentes Guaza. Spain.

This investigation aims at becoming an instrument for reflection and identification of part of the artistic production from Central America From a perspective of curatorial honesty, I would like to highlight that this investigation is both determined and limited by a series of clearly defined discursive lines, which at the same time have generated a confined space that is also inevitably imprinted with my own subjective approach. My hope is that this proposal will be amply discussed.

Everything began with Nosotros, Los Otros[1], an event that took place in Guatemala City in 2011. Proyectos Ultravioleta gave me the wonderful opportunity to take part in a discussion, along with Stefan Benchoam, Emiliano Valdés, Yasmin Hage and the attending public, about possible strategies to identify contemporary practices free of constrictive geopolitical features. This experience sparked in me a keen interest to investigate contemporary practices and languages linked to visual arts developed in Centro América.

As mentioned above, the “operational space” used as the focus for this investigation is limited by the following discursive lines:

1 Identification of porous site-time specific productions in direct dialog with the context in which they are inserted: they activate mechanisms of direct engagement with the space that supports them. The site-time specific approach facilitates the international mobility of artists based in Central America: platforms for artistic experimentation and exhibition of new contemporary practices such as Espira La Espora (Nicaragua), Diablo Rosso (Panama), Des Pacio (Costa Rica), Proyectos Ultravioleta (Guatemala), Kamin (Guatemala), The Fire Theory (El Salvador) and Tacón (Honduras) maintain flexible structures that are permeable to the new mobility flows.

2 Identification of languages and practices that operate in a space of “trans-comfort”: whose inconvenience forces the creator, or the curator, to implement new lines of investigation.

3  Identification of languages whose processes are marked by the outsourcing of the nodes of production and by the opening to new forms of artistic socialization: which, morphology-wise, generate new forms of association characterized by sophisticated linguistic and communicative aptitudes (Symposium: Strategic bridges between art and new audiences: Panama and Honduras).

4 Identification of practices aimed to articulate a conceptual transversal frontier-territory: based on the “arty-endosymbiosis”[2] principle as a space that reclaims the links of reciprocity, the re-socialization of independent work and the multiplication of nodes within associative networks.

From this enclosed space of evaluation, the present investigation develops a series of hypothesis that intend to foster a breeding ground for potential dialectic controversies.

First hypothesis: new mini paradigms for the elaboration of historical-artistic discourses.
We see how historical narratives and discourses build on fertile meetings between cultural agents with potential for mobility. These exchanges accumulate knowledge capital and facilitate the transmission of new practices through non-institutionalized channels, outside the sphere of superstructures. As Cuban artist Tania Bruguera[3] points out: “something that’s usually left aside are the furtive and sensitive encounters that occur when you travel to a different country and you have five beers with someone and then lunch and you engage in a conversation that can change your life as an artist.” The

The motto “discussion as an enriching argument” of Costa Rican platform TEOR/éTica (1999), along with Artefactoría in Nicaragua (1990-2002) or Fundación Colloquia in Guatemala (1998) promoted a new model of artistic legitimization based on the accumulation of knowledge by means of exchange and dialog.

Second hypothesis: overcoming of the “subordinate peripheral region” denomination.
This is a political-artistic time in which the label subordinate peripheral region has been subverted, a topic discussed in Temas Centrales, the 1st Regional Symposium on Curatorial practices and Possibilities celebrated in 2001. It is part of a process to deactivate a patronage-based vertical system which perpetuates the continuity of hegemonic powers that exist thanks to disadvantaged dependent communities. The overcoming of the so-called subordinate peripheral region announces the break with secondary dependence schemes characteristic of the 20th century.

Third hypothesis: the inability to elaborate an identity confined to a geopolitical space as opposed to the possibility to articulate a plural platform for critical discussion.
Internalization, the advent of the Internet, the on-going development of new formulas under the parameters of hyper-connectivity and crossed fertilization. The emergence of new forms of individuation along with the development of new processes of action on our environment[4] inhibit the elaboration of an identity linked to a territory and facilitate the emergence of a new practical regime of contemporary languages.

The scope of this investigation aims, on the one hand, towards the activation of a plural critical device[5] built with a plurality of voices and experiences by a group of active cultural agents, artists and curators. This device is linked to the different artistic scenes in Central America. On the other hand, it aims towards the identification of certain areas of activity in which formal and conceptual concerns converge.

a) New citizenship: Public Space as a parliament:
The re-appropriation of public space is a significant constant theme in part of the contemporary languages generated from Central America. We have identified a persistent concern for finding new forms of interaction with the urban fabric. Unlike private space, public space offers, as a non-restricted location, the possibility to carry out tests, micro-political actions that enable the experimentation with new democratic instruments. A clear example of this kind of proposals is ciudad MULTIPLE city[6] (2003), a project that combined contemporary local and international practices carried out in the urban space of Panama City. New parliamentary formulas that operate in the legitimacy of the space for artistic research, with the aim of serving as the catalyst for relation models.

b) From Tlamatinime to Catarata: geometry for beginners.
Recovering the simplicity of geometry as a universal language was one of the main activities of the Tlamatinime (Mesoamerican wise men). This investigation has come across productions such as the exhibition Catarata (2012) by Federico Herrero, that vindicate part of the Mesoamerican constructive imaginary with the aim to define similarities between the non-perceptible—the quantum dimension—and the laws ruling our more immediate reality.

c) Defusing Utopias: De-activating postmodernity.
For most Central American societies, the 20th century was marked by periods of political instability and intense systemic violence[7], with the exception of Costa Rica, which during those years enjoyed a healthy democratic system. These periods have caused cracks in the ideologies that have tried to establish idiosyncrasies whose aim was to foster social, political and economic improvements.

This section focuses on the analysis of contemporary practices investigating the disrupting mechanisms of utopias that have generated a discontinuous program in the architectural, political, social and cultural development of Central America.

d) Economy of friendship.
Affective bonds have become a major resource for articulating artistic communities that generate new spaces–for instance, the International Meeting (cheverista) in Medellin (2011) and Des Pacio’s residency program in Costa Rica—that are neither strictly private nor completely open, based on participatory dynamics and with features of “individuation” processes.

e) Liquid Identity: figuring out the polyhedron.
The search for an identity to build oneself in a globalized context—as the last resort to retain a sense of belonging—in which artistic processes must avoid the “homogenization” resulting from a hetero-referenced reality (a concern expressed in Raúl Quintanilla’s installation GloBANANAlizacion)[8] becomes a complex, multi-faceted and liquid task similar to a volcanic crust that hardens and melts again, constantly reshaping[9].

f) Acupuncture on the artistic tissue as an opening device.
This area of activity identifies part of the sediments that are essential to contextualize the evolution and opening process of contemporary languages from Central America since the late 1990s. Outstanding examples of this are the visit of the curator of the 49th Venice Biennial Harald Szeeman; the new coordinates of art from the Isthmus that curators Rolando Castellón and Virginia Perez-Ratton established in the exhibition Mesótica II: Centroamérica. Re-generación (1996)[10] and the opening efforts of Luis Gonzalez Palma and Moses Barrios in Galeria Imaginaria and Artefactoría in Managua are indisputable pieces in the development of visual languages in Central America.

[1] Nosotros, los otros (2011). Proyectos Ultravioleta. Guatemala City
[2] An endosymbiont is any organism that lives within the body or cells of another organism.
[3] Interview with Tania Bruguera. December 2012
[4] Estética de la Emergencia (Adriana Hidalgo, 2011). Laddaga, Reinaldo.
[5] TACÓN, Nómadas, EAT/Escuela Experimental de las Artes, Espira La Espora, RAPACES, Proyecto CABRA–Centro América/Brasil, Hybridart Projects and Casa Alegre.
[6] ciudad MÚLTIPLE city, 2003 curated by Gerardo Mosquera and Adrienne Samos.
[7] VPCR: Vídeo Políticas de Construcción y Reacción, (2012) curated by The Fire Theory, related to Kency Cornejo’s doctoral research The visual disobedient. Geopolitic experimental art. Central America.
[8] GloBANANAlización. Raúl Quintanilla.
[9] “Liquid modernity” is a concept coined by Zygmunt Bauman.
[10] Mesótica II: Centroamérica. Re-generación, (1996). Exhibition dedicated to Gerardo Mosquera. 

press release

A detailed cartography of what is taking place in the Central American art scene, and more specifically in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, where art is currently undergoing a great period of effervescence and exponential growth, having major international ramifications.

Containing more than 170 entries for curators, artists and spaces, as well as a selection of approximately 90 projects, along with interviews of the main cultural role-players who are now active in the Central American scene.

Luisa Fuentes Guaza is an independent curator from Madrid. She specializes in contemporary Latin American art. She was a member of the 2012 selection committee of the CIFO scholarships program and worked in collaboration with ARTESUR. She is the author of USTEDES. NOSOTROS/ Jóvenes Artistas Iberoamericanos (YOU. US/ Young Ibero-American Artists, Barcelona, Indexbook, 2010). At present, she works as a guest curator for La Casa Encendida as part of the program En Casa 2013, dedicated to emerging international artists.

Edited: Luisa Fuentes Gaza
Pages: 530
Format : 6,6 x 8,4 in
Images: 250
Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-84-15832-63-8
Retail Price: 28 euros 


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